Last Sunday I ran my first half marathon, 13.1 miles. The first 10 miles went much better than I expected. I kept up with the group of runners around me and even passed a few folks. That all changed at mile 10. It was like I ran into a brick wall. Miles 10 through 12 were pure agony. All I could think about was quitting -- after all I had run most of the race! But those mind games where nothing compared to what I went through during the final mile. Each step was an intentional decision. I do not know how to put into words that joy I felt when I crossed the finish line. The race was over. I could rest. I could cry and I did!
During that last mile I kept repeating Paul’s words in Philippians 3, “Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward.”
It is interesting that Paul focuses on finishing the race. Starting is easy. Finishing is what separates the sheep from the goats.
The day after the half marathon I attend a funeral for a woman who died from Mantle Cell Lymphoma. She left behind a husband, two children and four grandchildren. As her eulogy was read, one line stuck out for me, “On January 25, 2010 she won the battle, dying peacefully…”
She won the battle! She pressed on. She finished the race.
There is a lie circulating out there that suggests that once we give our lives to Jesus everything will go well. For many of us, most of the race does go well, and I am thankful for that. But most of the race is not the all of the race.
We are called to finish the race. That is not always easy.
Sometimes life sucks. When that happens, we need to make intentional decisions to move forward, to press on towards the goal, to finish the race.
Nothing replaces the knowing that you have crossed the finish line. The knowledge that you didn’t give up.
Are you ready to run until you have crossed the line?